There is a shortage of certain drugs in the UK as medicines are being bought cheaply and sold at higher prices in Europe.
UK patients are losing out in the drug shortage
The All-Party Pharmacy Group carried out a six month investigation into the issue of drug shortages. It found that at any one time, between 30 and 40 medicines are in short supply in the UK, mainly for patients with diabetes, epilepsy and schizophrenia.
Their report reveals that some patients had on occasion been unable to obtain medicine due to the shortage, with a number being hospitalised as a result.
The All-Party Pharmacy Group has said that the main cause of shortage is not supply from the manufacturers, but exportation by smaller wholesalers to make a profit.
Whilst this exporting is legal under EU and UK law, the report noted that highly qualified pharmacists are now spending too much time locating medicines in short supply.
MPs are now calling for the government to put the interests of UK patients before European trade laws. The report, led by Labour MP Kevin Barron, reads:
“The UK has been experiencing shortages of NHS prescription medicines for four years.”
“These shortages are caused principally by the export of medicines intended for the UK market to other EU countries.”
A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said: "It is vital that patients get the medicines they need. In the vast majority of cases, they do." She concluded: "We will carefully consider the recommendations the All-Party Pharmacy Group make in their report."
Whilst health insurance offers access to many expensive drugs and treatments, it is unlikely to cover the maintenance of long term conditions like diabetes and epilepsy. For more information take a look at our page on chronic conditions.
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